Monday, September 1, 2014

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 9/1/14

  The Nature In Us Newsletter - 9/1/14 
  by Donna L. Watkins  



Hello Dear Friends!

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Donna at Mepkin Abbey Sitting On a Carving Of
Mary & Joseph Traveling to Bethlehem
View Photos of Mepkin Abbey & Grounds
I recently came across this photo and could feel the instant peace of this place. In December 2007 I took a week at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, SC, as a retreat.  There wasn't a scheduled day other than to appear for meals.  You were on your own to wander and roam about on over 3,000 acres of preserved land.

The experience was very special and definitely different.  I had no background in the Catholic religion but the setting was awesome. Part of the day honored the Lord with contemplative silence (you weren't supposed to talk at all) so to say it was a peaceful place is an understatement. No radios, televisions or internet. With thousands of acres of lovely gardens, ponds, woodlands along the Cooper River, there was much to explore in the natural world.  It is definitely removed from the "real" world.  Read my "Journal of Mepkin Abbey"View Photos of Mepkin Abbey & Grounds.

Randal Looking For The Letterbox in the Ivy
A couple of years ago, we began a fun activity called "Letterboxing." It's an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp journals with a "treasure hunt" type of outdoor quest.  You look for locations near you, or near where you will be traveling, so you can locate the "letterbox" (any type of container hidden somewhere with clues on how to find it).

My favorite website directory of clues to find letterboxes is Atlas Quest.  It has the most options or listings. Begin on the About Us page to see if this activity fits with you and your family.  Then search for letterboxes near your home.

We decided to take an easy one since it was along the way of our task list when we went to town.  This one began with this statement:  "... the legendary bagelry that has become a Charlottesville institution ..."  Anybody living here would know this is Bodo's Bagels, but there was also an address and photo in the listing since there are several locations.

The directions on where to find it were:  "Pull into the parking lot and park in the last spot on the right facing the fence. As you step out of you driver's seat take notice of the double trunk tree in front of you at the edge of the woods just a few steps ahead. At the base of that tree, nestled in the ivy behind it, you will find a box dedicated to the two most important women in my life."

Here's another site that has a directory of places.  Some will be duplicates of Atlas Quest, but you may find some that are not listed on Atlas Quest.

 
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 Young Blue Jay Still Filling in Natural Coloring 
More Blue Jay Photos
We've still got plenty of young birds around.  Another batch of Cardinals, five young Grackles, Red-headed Woodpeckers that don't get a red head until they're adults, and some Blue Jays that are still getting their full markings in.  The young ones are so curious and sometimes a bit too brave.

We'll soon be seeing the Ruby-crowned Kinglets coming through on migration. They were all over our pyracantha bushes the year we had cottony scale.  Check out the picture of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet eating cottony scale.  Sure don't like thinking of migration since that means winter isn't far off.

We've had a lot of baby skinks also.  The species we have is the Five-Lined Skink.  The young ones have a bright blue tail and black shiny back with five (5) lines on it.  The adults don't look anything like the young ones.  They turn brown with the stripes barely noticeable.  When the males are mating, their heads are bright orange.

We love our lizards and I enjoy watching them sunbath in various places around the property.  One of them being on top of a concrete pig that sits right outside the screened porch where my chaise is.  I don't know if there's more than one that uses this perch position to survey the land beyond for bugs but I enjoy seeing them there.  They watch for movement and then dart out so fast to get it. 

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Eastern Fence Lizard Shedding Skin
More Lizard Photos

One day as we were eating lunch I noticed an Eastern Fence Lizard on the deck that looked rather strange.  I got the binoculars so I could look without getting closer and saw that it was shedding an old skin for a new one that had grown underneath it.

Snakes do this also since they grow and their bodies need a new "shell" to hold that growth.  This one looked pretty embarrassed when I went out to the deck to take some photos.  It looks like a female since they are gray with black markings, whereas the males are more brown with brilliant blue-green markings on the size behind the front legs.

Here's some good news for zoos:  Bjarke Ingels’s ‘zootopia’ reverses the role of captor and captive to let animals roam free, while humans are hidden from view.  His plan for the Givskud “Zootopia”, a 1960s zoological park in southern Denmark, is a world where animals roam free, liberated from cages and tanks, while visitors observe them hidden from view, buried beneath the ground or obscured inside piles of logs.

A 300-acre stage set wilderness in which the roaming  beasts should never even know you are there, carefully concealed behind the scenes.  How awesome is that?  I'm not able to find much good about zoos.  I know they keep animals from going extinct, but then they also have all the rest of the animals living in such unnatural environments.  It's so sad to see how many live on concrete.  You can see the sadness in their eyes.  Read more about Denmark's Cage-free Zoo.

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Squeek, Our Kitty - 18 Years Old
More Digital Photos of Our Cats
Photos of Our Cats Before Digital Camera
Many of you have asked now and then how our cat, Squeek, is doing.  Years back she went through a 21-day period where she wouldn't eat so I had to get water in her with a syringe and food in her by putting it on a knife and scraping it off on her tongue.  Fortunately she would swallow and she took the many herbal formulas in capsule that I was stuffing down her.  She's a gentle kitty and a really good cat.  Although the vet said she would die if I took her off the IV she had her on to bring her home, she lived.  It didn't matter to me because having her die in a lonely cage in a vet's office is certainly not what I'd call a great alternative.

Squeek turned 18 in July.  That's real good for an FIV cat (the feline version of HIV in humans).  She's still a playful little kitty.  She loves strings and ropes.  Forget the usual kitty toys.  In this picture she had her eyes on the string that was attached to my pocket camera that you could put around your wrist to make sure you didn't drop it.  She began playing right after I snapped this photo.

We listened to a message by Greg Mohr (Charis Bible College Healing School) this week that was especially encouraging and motivating.  Sometimes we seem to know everything there is to know about a subject in the Bible (healing, provision, peace, forgiveness) and yet it's only knowledge in our minds, facts we've logged away.  If it's not been implanted in our hearts, we cannot operate from those beliefs.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 4:23:

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."  (KJV)

"Above all else guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it."  (NIV)
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  (NLT)


The heart is where our spirit and soul rest and as we know when we accept Jesus as Lord His spirit is downloaded into our spirit and we have access to everything that Jesus has promised ... BUT! our soul (mind, will and emotions) still have their own agenda/memories. They have to be "renewed" to line up with the spirit.  We were made to live out of our spirits and to communicate with God from our spirits, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

Jesus is always willing to heal and help us ... He is the same today, yesterday and forever and in Matthew 8:2-3 He told a man with leprosy that He was willing to heal him.  The man had knelt before Him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."  And Jesus was willing as He always is.  We just need to be willing to receive what has already been deposited in our spirit account.  

God says we already have it since Christ died for these promises and He's not going to go back to the Cross again for each person. So, it's not a matter of asking God to heal you ... it's a matter of believing that He's already done all that He has promised you in the Word.  

The "faith movement" has been under attack for a long time with people speaking words from the Bible thinking that the more they say it the sooner it will come to pass.  Saying it's so, when it isn't so, doesn't make it so.  We have to believe in our hearts.  That's where meditating on the Word comes in.  We do that to renew our minds and get what we "know" into our actual "knower" (heart) that rules our lives.

Well, I began to tell you about Greg's message, What Are You Submitting To? ... it's a great one.  I think you should watch it yourself.  It begins with praise and worship, but if you want to view only his message you can position the bar at the 54:00 minute mark and he will be speaking. The content showing on the page is for his new book ... not the message he's speaking.

I am doing better every week and it's exciting to see what the Word can accomplish.  When this newsletter goes out, we will be near the coast of Virginia for an overnight getaway.  My birthday is this week so I always like "make a memory" gift rather than more stuff.  Lots of trail time, beach boardwalking, visiting a fort, lighthouse and a historical farm with lots of animals.  I'll be taking loads of photos, so you'll be able to see it all in another newsletter.

Spend time with the Lord daily just sitting before Him.  Picture yourself at His throne adoring and praising Him.  If the whole day has gone by and you've not had intimate time with Him ... you can lose some sleep to do so.  After all, haven't you lost sleep to see a good movie?  You can lose a bit of sleep to spend time with the God who created the Universe just for you to enjoy.

Have a blessed time with the Lord this week.
Donna


P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?
Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter:  
http://www.thenatureinus.com/2014/09/the-nature-in-us-newsletter-9114.html

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Posts Since Last Newsletter

Do You Really Trust God? (DLW)

Backyard Buzz—Beyond the Honeybee

Monarch Waystation in Mall

Jogging With Your Dog (Video)

Overcoming Trouble

Slugs - Give Them a Chance to Steal Your Heart

Can We Control Emotions and Feelings?

Lyme Disease - An Emerging Pet Problem

The Nature In Us Newsletter - 8/15/14 (DLW)

Previous Posts You May Have Missed

Seeing The Word Alive In Me  (DLW)

Living Near Trees Reduces Stress

Composting Cardboard

Baffling Behaviors of Pets

Newsletter - 8/1/14  (DLW)

God Wants YOU Well

Sodas and Fructose Dangers

Water Striders In Our Pond  (DLW)

God Is Not Mad At You

Alternative Therapies for Pet Joint Problems

Worm Composting

Newsletter - 7/15/14  (DLW)

Prozac for Pets Grows in Popularity

God's Kind of Love

Benefits Of The Black Gum Tree

Newsletter - 7/1/14 (DLW)

Christian Mockingbirds (DLW)

Controlling Army Worms in Your Garden

The Power of Preventive Care for Pets - Video

Thoughts, Doubts and Fears

No Thought Is Harmless

How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden

The Mysterious Brown Thrasher  (DLW)

Ants Are Gardening Assets

The Power Of Hope


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© All photos unless otherwise noted are the property of Donna L. Watkins and cannot be displayed without approval. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do You Really Trust God?

by Donna L. Watkins

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Gray Treefrog Hiding in Flower Pot Foil
See More Treefrog Photos
God has been directing my focus toward trust for a couple of years now. At first I didn't understand what He meant since I knew I already trusted the Lord. What a laugh God must have over us at times ... or is He more moved with tears at our deceptions? The more the word trust would jump out at me the more I sought the Lord for revelation and He gave it.

He showed me where the root was in my childhood and how it had layered itself very deep within my very soul. The experiences I had of my great grandparents, whom I was very close to, both dying on the same day when I was 9 and hearing people say, "The Lord wanted them in Heaven today."

We all have lots of experiences we remember, and many that we don't, that lead us to not trust God, but as we attend church and learn the Christianese language we get used to saying "the right thing" even if our hearts condemn us.  I found in this healing journey walk that I really had no trust in the Lord. I was quite shocked. He pointed out to me that the foundation of my healing journey is faith and without trusting Him, faith is not activated. [Related Article: Totally Forgiven, Is That How You See Yourself?]

A good visual example of this is when a father asks his child to jump into his arms. That looks pretty risky and the child will initially hesitate until the father convinces him to come. After that first time, the child's trust builds upon experience.

We've been told that God does a lot of bad things in this world. We're told He kills people because He needs them in Heaven. He sends tornadoes and hurricanes to destroy towns that have sin in them (what town doesn't have sin in it). He puts AIDS on people who live in sinful lifestyles. He makes bad things happen to you to teach you something. Although we might say we love this God, it's not hard to understand that our minds and heart would definitely not agree with that.

We have to know that evil comes from the devil and good comes from God. We must begin to expect good from God because what we expect or imagine will become real in our lives. But that puts a bit too much responsibility on some folks who would rather just blame it all on God.

Don't we all know people who talk negative all the time. "If this is going to happen to somebody, it's going to happen to me." "I'm the first one to get the flu every year." And as one lies down in bed thinking, "Another night of insomnia, why bother?" Pay attention and you will see people stand out that prophesy doom and gloom all over their lives ... and they get it.

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Squirrels Waiting For The Sweepstakes Delivery
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Jesus said He was the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3) and Jesus never put disease on anybody. The Bible tells us many times that He healed ALL. If it was God's will for somebody to be sick and diseased, then Jesus would not have been able to heal all. Many people will believe that disease is God's will. They believe that He can heal, but that He probably won't heal them.

The question I ask when somebody tells me that God puts disease on people so they can learn something is this: "If you truly believe that, why are you going to the doctors to fight against the will of God? If you don't learn the lesson this time, you'll be going around the mountain another time with another disease."

We don't understand everything that happens to us but the Holy Spirit will teach you if you are open to learn. What a great promise this is (if we believe and receive it):

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

I've heard people reply to that with, "Well, I sure don't hear Him speaking." And when asked how much time they spend "being still and knowing" before the Lord, the answer is .... well, let's just say it's more Martha than Mary. People fill their lives with busyness so they don't have to think about what is going wrong until it blows up in their face, and then because they have not established a habit of just sitting in the Presence of Jesus on a regular basis, they send up "flare prayers." We tend to think God can be used like a vending machine. Pop in a prayer request, pull a knob and get your answer. God wants relationship.

Faith comes from Hope - "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). The devil attacks our hope with wrong thoughts of who God is. He did this with Jesus. All three temptations related to "IF You are the Son of God."

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Gray Catbird Taking Off From Lamp Post
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Two of my major verses right now that I am using to meditate on (take it from my head to my heart) are Proverbs 3:5 and Isaiah 26:3:

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

When we can truly trust God, we will be able to stay in peace no matter the circumstances. It's not a quick process ... at least it wasn't for me, but when I look back, it's pretty incredible what God has done.  Being in peace makes the whole process of changing your heart beliefs a lot easier.  Trust will activate our faith and in truly believing with the heart, not the head, will bring forth those things we desire:

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24).

All we can do when things go South is to say, "Lord I trust you! You are faithful and you have provided for this situation before I was ever conceived. I will believe in your faithfulness and trust that all is well no matter what I see. I believe in what I know of You and what my spirit is telling me."

Related Articles
No Hope Left
The Power of Hope


Backyard Buzz—Beyond the Honeybee

Photo:  Donna L. Watkins
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Metallic Green Bee
(Agapostemon, Halictid Bee, Halictidae)
on Black-eyed Susan Flower
by Christie Peterson

Honeybees are only one representative (and an alien one at that) of a fascinating and varied group of insects.

Their cousins include the teddy bears of the insect world, the bumblebees, bright-colored sweat bees, tiny carpenter bees, mooching cuckoo bees, and the popular mason bees.

Last year I made it a goal to notice and then photograph as many bee species as possible in my own backyard. I was staggered by the variety—I still haven’t identified them all.  

Here are just a few of the kinds I discovered.


Monarch Waystation in Mall

Monarch on Sedum
At the Healthy Living Market, which occupies the old JC Penny’s space in the Wilton Mall of Saratoga Springs, NY, there is a new Monarch Waystation site.

How exciting!  As people see this it will encourage others to change their own landscapes.  We are a certified Monarch Waystation also here at Bluebird Cove.  It's an exciting thing to know you are helping this butterflies.  Their numbers are so quickly receding, but we can make a difference.

Read the rest of this good news story.


Jogging With Your Dog (Video)

by Dr. Sarah

This month’s episode of Pet Talk with Dr. Sarah is for anyone considering a new exercise routine.

Let’s face it, starting any sort of new exercise routine can be brutal. Even with the added bonuses of losing weight, sleeping more soundly and feeling better, it’s hard to fully commit yourself. It can even prove too much of a challenge for some … unless you have the right partner.

Fortunately, Dr. Sarah’s latest video reveals six important steps towards starting and maintaining an exercise routine with your canine companion. Watch the latest episode of Pet Talk now


Friday, August 22, 2014

Overcoming Trouble

Overcome Tribulation
by Andrew Wommack

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Jesus said we would have tribulation. He did not say that He was the one bringing the tribulation or what the tribulation would be, but He said it would come. Then He made the amazing statement that in the midst of tribulation we were to be of good cheer.

Tribulations exist because there is a battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil. When we operate in faith, God is able to grant us such victory that we are actually better off because of the battle.

It's just like when a army goes to war. If they win, they gain spoils. But if they embrace their enemy because of the spoils they were expecting to receive, they will be killed instead of blessed. First, you have to fight and win the war and then, and only then, will the spoils be available. The enemy doesn't come to be a blessing, but a blessing can be obtained from the enemy if we are victorious.

Likewise, tribulations and adversities are not blessings from God. They are attacks from the enemy intended to steal the Word of God out of our lives. No man should say that the temptation came from God, for God is not the one who tempts any man (James 1:13).

If problems were what perfected us, then most Christians would have been perfected long ago and those who experienced the greatest problems would be the greatest Christians. However, that's not the way it is.

God's Word is given to us to make us perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). God's Word does not need to be supplemented with problems to accomplish its work.

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Slugs - Give Them a Chance to Steal Your Heart

Photo by Donna L. Watkins
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Great Gardenslug aka Leopard Slug
Kemper Park, Charlottesville, VA

by Christy Peterson

“Slug” is a word that garners an instant response, from a general “yuck” to downright vitriol. Slugs have few champions and many victims.

The slugs that ravage most gardens and greenhouses are nonnative species, in my case, the great gray garden slug and the European black slugs.

In their native habitats (and in my backyard too) slugs are important cogs in the food web. They break down decaying plant material, help disperse seeds and spores, and rid the world of poop (another favorite slug food).  Read the entire article.




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